An eLearning module is a unit of study that can be delivered individually or in conjunction with other modules to form a course. eLearning modules are self-paced learning experiences that include written content, audio, video, and other visual elements. Generally defined by objectives, topics, themes, or tasks, modules are the segments of knowledge transmission that comprise eLearning as a process.
The content, form, and objectives of eLearning modules are as diverse as eLearning applications themselves, covering academic curriculum, professional skills, and everything in between. Modules can be delivered in a linear sequence, guiding users through multi-stage learning processes, or they can be presented concurrently, allowing learners to navigate different topics and categories independently.
Modules vary in length from bite-sized microlearning exercises to comprehensive lessons. Because an eLearning module is just a piece of an overall course, its learning objectives are more targeted than the objectives of broader curriculum design.
eLearning modules fall into three broad categories: information-based, performance-based, or a mix of the two.
Information-based eLearning modules are designed to deliver knowledge without the goal of changing behavior or developing concrete skills. An information-based module presents a collection of information, packaged for ease of comprehension, integration, and review.
An example of an information-based module in an organizational context is a compliance course.
Performance-based modules are designed and delivered to change behavior and improve measurable and business-relevant skills. A performance-based module outlines a task, procedure, or skill, invites learners to engage with new information and protocols, and supports upskilling as a holistic learning process.
An example of a performance-based module in an organizational context is simulation training. In a simulation module, the learner would directly apply new procedures and skills to a simulated scenario with the effect of practicing and developing their performance.
This type of module usually introduces an action, explains it, and allows the learner to practice and test it.
eLearning curricula frequently combine information- and performance-based modules to support multi-level learning.
A hybrid module might provide background information on the principles and history informing organizational protocols before guiding learners through the protocols themselves.
While eLearning modules are often delivered in conjunction with other modules to form a broader curriculum or training, microlearning modules, or bite-sized knowledge units, are becoming increasingly popular in the eLearning industry.
Microlearning modules are helpful in addressing specific goals, problems, and opportunities for upskilling or onboarding. They are often used to support performance-based learning, with a focus on concrete skills.
An example of a microlearning module is the digital packaging of a new beverage recipe for baristas. In this example, a barista would be provided with a 5- to 10-minute module, comprised of an ingredients list, an outline of tasks, an instructional video, and a quick quiz.
Microlearning modules allow learners to integrate small and digestible units of new information efficiently and independently. They have been shown to support knowledge retention and improve performance, and microlearning is expected to continue to increase in popularity, demand, and implementation.
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